Second ODI in Port Elizabeth today
Pakistan eye maiden series win against South Africa
PORT ELIZABETH: Twenty-two years and 16 days ago, South Africa played their first ODI. On Wednesday, they will compete in their 500th. It’s only fitting that St George’s Park, the same ground that hosted South Africa’s first Test, will stage the landmark match. It may seem as though Pakistan have played South Africa for the majority of those ODIs and they are almost correct. Only Australia have competed in more ODIs against South Africa – 80; Pakistan are in second place with 69 matches. They are the team that has played South Africa most in 2013, with 12 ODIs already contested. By Saturday that number will be 14 – the most any team has played against South Africa in a year.
Most of the matches between these two teams, however, have provided interesting contests. After struggling in the UAE, Pakistan pulled off a victory in their last two matches in South Africa, breaching the hosts’ fortress to complete a unique Cape Town double and taking a lead in the three-ODI series. Again, it was the batting that let both sides down in the first ODI. Pakistan were restricted by a disciplined South African attack, leaving their bowlers with a below-par total to defend, but they were up to the task.
South Africa are still figuring out how to get their combinations right, now that Jacques Kallis has rejoined their ODI set-up. Pakistan will see it as the ideal opportunity to push for a maiden series win against them. Pakistan also need to put on bigger partnerships, but with an attack that gives them the edge this could be a chance for them to spoil South Africa’s milestone match. Although he has looked in good touch, Hashim Amla has not managed a half-century in any of the ODIs and T20s against Pakistan – a total of eight innings. He had a tough time against Mohammad Irfan, who has now dismissed Amla the most times, in the UAE but found the going no easier since the fast bowler has been missing. Junaid Khan and Sohail Tanvir have also accounted for Amla.
Without Irfan, Pakistan’s bowling was expected to be weaker but Bilawal Bhatti made up for Irfan’s absence. The 22-year old appeared as though he had been playing international cricket for much longer than three matches – he has exemplary control, an in-swinging yorker South Africa’s attack would envy, and he can bat. Dav Whatmore previously lamented the lack of an allrounder in the Pakistan side but Bhatti and Anwar Ali may be the answer.
With South Africa wanting the experience of both Amla and Graeme Smith at the top, they had to use Quinton de Kock at No. 3, although he is out of position there. However, Smith’s grandmother passed away on Tuesday and if he sits out as a result, de Kock will open. David Miller has not scored a half-century in his last nine limited-overs innings and it may be time to give him a rest. Ryan McLaren was unlucky to be left out of the XI after being the Man of the Series in the UAE and he could slot in at No. 7. Lonwabo Tsotsobe was unwell for the previous ODI and the second T20, but if he has recovered South Africa will have to decide which seamer to leave out. Dale Steyn appeared in some discomfort in the first ODI, holding his back on occasion, so he may be given a rest.
Pakistan may not want to make too many changes to a winning XI but could still tinker with their batting as they try to post better totals. If they choose to leave out Nasir Jamshed, who has struggled to construct long innings, Mohammad Hafeez will have to open, which will mean facing Steyn. However, it would create room for Umar Amin or Asad Shafiq in the middle order.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller/Ryan McLaren, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn/Morne Morkel/Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Imran Tahir.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbahul Haq (capt), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Anwar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan. agencies